2022 Positional Tracker: Linebackers


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2022 Positional Tracker: Linebackers

The Fantasy Points staff is covering every major offensive transaction from the 2022 off-season in our Off-season Tracker articles. We broke down all the important free agency signings and trades from a fantasy perspective in articles sorted by position. The articles are ordered by players changing teams ("New Homes") and by players sticking with their 2021 teams ("Staying Put"). The players are also ordered by their potential fantasy impact for the 2022 season in each section. Be sure to also check out Graham Barfield’s “Fantasy Fallout” pieces on the biggest transactions of the off-season.

New Homes

Bobby Wagner (LAR, 32) — The Super Bowl champs add another future Canton resident to their roster, inking Wagner to a five-year deal worth $50 million (including incentives up to $65 million).

Fantasy Points: The Rams know their Super Bowl window is open and saw what adding vets Matthew Stafford and Von Miller did to help them climb Mount Lombardi. They’ve been lacking a true MLB ever since Alec Ogletree hit a wall. Wagner checks all the boxes; he’s missed just two games in the last seven seasons, has at least 130 tackles during that stretch (including a whopping 170 last season), and at 31 he was still one of the top graded LBs in the league last season. He’s finally moving out of the worst stadium for awarding tackles, something that makes his massive tackle production even more impressive. The footnote on Wagner’s 170 tackles last season is that no defense played as many snaps as Seattle’s. Of the two LBs who had more tackles last season, one was teammate Jordyn Brooks (184). And speaking of snaps, the Rams defense didn’t use a full-time LB last season - a growing trend around the league - electing to have safety Jordan Fuller be the every-down playcaller. Will Wagner be an every-down player for the Rams and assume play-calling duties as he’s done for most of his career? Or does the plan for getting five more seasons out of Wagner involved a reduced role? It’s unlikely Wagner will play 1128 snaps again as he did in 2021, but he’s just too talented and experienced at a position of need for this team to leave him off the field for too long. He’s still got LB1 potential here.

Foye Oluokun (Jax, 27) — The Jaguars are hoping they’ve upgraded in the middle, signing Oluokun to a three-year contract worth $45 million ($28 million guaranteed).

Fantasy Points: The converted safety impressed the Falcons so much a few years ago that they let the talented De’Vondre Campbell go, moving Oluokun into the starting spot next to Deion Jones. Oluokun followed his strong 117-tackle campaign in 2020 with a 192-tackle 2021 season, adding 5 INTs, 5 forced fumbles, and 5 sacks in his last two seasons. Gone are Myles Jack and Joe Schobert. This is Oluokun’s defense now. He should rack up tackles in the 110-130 range, but the Jacksonville stat crew loves to award assists instead of solos, limiting Oluokun’s chances of top-10 LB status.

Myles Jack (Pit, 26) — Jack signed with the Steelers for two years and $16 million.

Fantasy Points: Jack is loaded with talent but a few years ago he struggled when the Jaguars moved him to the MIKE. He switched back to his more natural position of WILL and showed why he can still be effective as a 100-tackle LB2. He should see a nice boost in fantasy value moving out of Jax, as the Jacksonville stat crew has been one of the worst for awarding solo tackles. Of his 108 tackles in 2021, only 62 were solo. 2020 was no better (118 tackles; 72 solo). Pittsburgh should be friendlier in that regard, but Jack isn’t likely to move out of LB2 range. It’s more that he can move into the top 20 as opposed to hovering near the backend of the LB2/LB3 border.

Alex Singleton (Den, 29) — The Broncos take a chance on one of the most productive tacklers over the last two years, signing him to a 1-year contract worth $1.1 million fully guaranteed.

Fantasy Points: Singleton racked up 137 tackles after posting 120 tackles the previous year. His tackle rate hovers around 20%, which is simply unsustainable. He also put up these numbers while coming off the bench most games. If you asked every IDP analyst in the free world what the chances of a player who didn’t see the field until 26 and operating mostly as a subpackage player producing 257 tackles in seasons two and three of his career are, you’d get a resounding “ARE YOU NUTS?” That’s my question to the Broncos, but then again they only signed him to a 1-year deal. It’s unlikely Singleton will maintain that hyper-efficient tackle production, and his role is still unclear with the draft and several veteran LBs still on the market.

Jordan Hicks (Min, 30) — Hicks signed with Minnesota for two years, $10 million.

Fantasy Points: In just a few months, Hicks went from being a dominant middle defender and every-down LB for Arizona to a cut candidate following the draft. Then as the 2021 season kicked off, there was Hicks, leading the defense again. All-in-all, Hicks played well enough last season to play meaningful snaps on an LB-needy defense. Hicks should team up nicely with Eric Kendricks in Minnesota, but he may struggle to hit that 115-120 tackle mark he was averaging in Arizona. LB3+ is a reasonable expectation for now.

Others Changing Teams

Mack Wilson (NE, 24) — Cleveland traded Wilson to NE for DE Chase Winovich. New England is where LBs go to watch their fantasy value die.

Jayon Brown (LV, 27) — After falling out of favor (and getting injured) in Tennessee, Brown moves to Las Vegas on a 1-year contract worth $1.25 million with $625,000 guaranteed.

Jalen Reeves-Maybin (Hou, 26) — JRM heads to Houston on a two-year, $7.5 million deal to compete for a part-time role.

Oren Burks (SF, 27) — The former Packer has a two-year contract worth $5 million, likely to be a role player in San Francisco.

Nicholas Morrow (Chi, 27) — Chicago replaces Danny Trevathan with Morrow on a one-year contract worth $3 million.

Damien Wilson (Car, 28) — Carolina gives Wilson a 2-year contract worth $6.9 million with $3.7 million guaranteed.

Jermaine Carter (KC, 27) — Carter was given every opportunity to make an impact in Carolina last season and fell flat. Of his 88 tackles starting all 17 games, only 38 were solo He goes to a team that hasn’t produced a top-30 LB in years on a 1-year contract worth $1.77 milion.

Staying Put

De'Vondre Campbell (GB, 29) — Green Bay locks up its other quarterback on a 5-year contract worth $50 million.

Fantasy Points: Campbell turned a corner last season. After playing second fiddle to Deion Jones in Atlanta, Campbell blossomed as the primary LB in Green Bay. After hovering around the 100-tackle mark the previous four seasons, Campbell tallied 146 tackles (102 solo) last season. He looked faster and invigorated as the lead dog on a defense that played with many leads. With Aaron Rodgers back, we should see more of the same from Campbell in Green and Gold.

Anthony Walker (Cle, 27) — Walker re-signed with Cleveland for one year and $5 million.

Fantasy Points: An underrated player in the shadow of Darius Leonard in Indy, Walker showed his LB1 upside as the primary LB in Cleveland last season. He finished with 113 tackles in just 12 games, averaging mid-tier LB1 production after he recovered from his training camp injury. The Browns obviously like what they saw, as they are keeping Walker for another year and traded away LB Mack Wilson.

Alex Anzalone (Det, 28) — The Lions bring back the JAG-like LB on a one-year contract worth $2.25 million (with up to $4 million in incentives).

Fantasy Points: Anzalone was simply a body in the middle of a struggling defense, but a capable body he was. Will he retain his every-down MLB role after the rest of free agency and the draft unfold? Probably not. But if somehow he does, Anzalone could again have sneaky LB3 value as a player who falls forward a lot.

Others Staying Home

Josey Jewell (Den, 27) — Jewell re-ups with Denver on a two-year contract worth $11 million.

Kamu Grugier-Hill (Hou, 26) — In keeping with their love of hyphenated LBs, Grugier-Hill re-signed with Houston for one year, $4 million, joining Jalen Reeves-Maybin.

Ja'Whaun Bentley (NE, 28) — Bentley stays in NE - and stays a borderline fantasy option - thanks to a new 2-year contract worth $9 million.

Duke Riley (Mia, 28) — Miami retains Riley on a one-year contract worth $3 million.

Elandon Roberts (Mia, 28) — Along with Duke Riley, Roberts also re-signs with Miami on a one-year contract worth $3.25 million.

Leighton Vander Esch (Dal, 26) — Went from a cut candidate this time last year to re-signing with the Cowboys on a one year, $3 million deal. He should continue his part-time role in a heavy LB rotation.

Justin has been holding down the IDP fort for John Hansen and the crew since 2015. In addition to projections and articles, he also hosts an all-IDP podcast called “The IDP Corner,” where he is joined by his fellow FantasyPoints IDP contributor Thomas Simons, along with other special guests.